Ginger Briggs writes:

Usually when a politician resigns
there’s a brief period when even his greatest enemies mutter platitudes
about “statesman-like qualities” and “contribution to public life.” Not
for Bob Carr.

Less than 24 hours after announcing his
retirement, the knives are out as many of Australia’s most influential
commentators set about trashing his legacy.

“As premier of NSW,” says the Fin Review,
“Carr made a good intellectual.” As for fundamental economic reform, he
was an “absolute failure,” says John Durie, also in the Fin. He
lacked the political ticker to take on the unions, he basked in the
Olympic-reflected glory without harnessing its potential long-term
benefits, and he presided over never-ending hospital waiting lists.

He
was the “master of the black arts of state politics” who presided with
“splendid effrontery over what has almost certainly been the worst
government in the history of NSW,” says Peter Coleman in the Fin Review, and he goes on to list the failures: schools, suburban riots, drugs.

Even depression-expert Jeff Kennett hops in to Carr in theThe Australian, – while “I like Bob, don’t get me wrong,” he spent ten years failing to “deliver on some basic issues.”

The
prime minister was just as critical: “NSW should be doing better, and
the reason NSW is not doing better is largely the result of a number of
bad decisions, such as property taxes, that have been taken by the Carr
Government over the past few years,” said John Howard. Carr conducted his third term wafting in “drift and detachment,” says TheDaily Telegraph.
And Peter Ruehl caps it off with the most damning legacy for any
premier. “In the end, Bob couldn’t make the trains run on time,” he
says in the Fin Review. “Or the buses.”

But there were a few spruikers. Greg Sheridan in The Australian
wrote about the man who set the “gold standard as a journalist” and
went on to become “the wittiest, cleverest and most generally erudite
politician I’ve met anywhere.” And despite Carr’s claims that he is not
seeking a career in Canberra, The Age
has all but redesigned the Lodge for “the accidental prime minister,”
while Piers Akerman has found him and Helena a nice little diplomatic
post. But perhaps the best post-premier career suggestion comes from
the man who won’t succeed him, Andrew Refshauge, who thinks Carr should be a playwright.

Peter Fray

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